Chrystal Marie Clifford, who excelled in her college journalism studies, was beginning her career at the Towson Times.
She joined the Times staff in June, compiling listings of community events and a digest of school news. Her promotion to reporter was on the horizon, her bosses said.
Saturday, Miss Clifford died of injuries suffered when the car she was riding in hit a telephone pole on Frederick Road west of Catonsville. She was 22 and lived in Reisterstown.
"She had all the traits you look for in a good reporter," said James S. Keat, a retired assistant managing editor of The Sun who supervised her when she was a summer intern working under the auspices of the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association.
"She was highly motivated, full of spunk ... a bundle of energy," Mr. Keat said.
Miss Clifford had been an intern at the Columbia Flier and Howard County Times in summer and fall 1999. At the same time, she helped put herself through college by working a second job at Martin's supermarket in Eldersburg.
"When I interviewed her for the job, I was impressed that such a young woman was willing to spend long days here, then go to another job at night," said Maria Archangelo, managing editor of the Howard County Times and Columbia Flier. "She was always so conscientious. I got to the point when I could send Chrystal out on police stories. She was a real asset to the newsroom."
"She was full of promise. You knew she was going to be a good reporter. There was something special about Chrystal," said Paul Milton, managing editor of Patuxent Publishing Co.'s Baltimore-area newspapers. "She cared about the people she wrote about."
Said Charles Flippen, acting chairman of Towson University's mass communication and communication studies department: "She was an extraordinarily bright young woman and a wonderful student with the future before her."
Born in Westminster, Miss Clifford was a graduate of Westminster Elementary School, West Middle School and Westminster High School. In high school, she won an oratorical contest and, in school plays, played Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker" and Cosette in "Les Miserables."
Graduating summa cum laude from Towson University last year, she was named most-promising journalism major.
A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Westminster United Methodist Church, 162 E. Main St., where she was a member and sang in the choir.
She is survived by her mother, Deborah Anne Pleasant, and stepfather, Ken Pleasant, of Westminster; her father, David Clifford of Baltimore; siblings Amanda Beth Pleasant and Thomas Pleasant, both of Westminster; her maternal grandparents, Charles and Joanne Thomas of Reisterstown; and her paternal grandparents, Audrey and Jack Horner of Baltimore.